CARLSBAD — For 22 years, Vic Freudenberger of Carlsbad was the embodiment of the U.S. Marines.
And for 40 years, he was a staple of community service in North County.
The 96-year-old Philadelphia native survived World War II, the Korean War and became a decorated volunteer in Vista for 40 years after his military service.
Freudenberger signed up for the Marines in Philadelphia in the 1930s and was shipped to boot camp at Parris Island, S.C.
He married his wife, Skippy, 72 years ago in January 1944 and now cares for her at their La Costa Glen home.
The two started a family with their first daughter, Sharon, born in 1946 and the second, Laurie, in 1952.
The war effort
Freudenberger joined the First Parachute Battalion where he saw action at Guadalcanal and was wounded during the battle of Gavutu, Solomon Islands on Aug. 7, 1942. He was awarded the Purple Heart after taking fragments to the leg.
As the soldiers moved between islands, the Japanese dug in and waited. Heavy crossfire came from the enemy hiding in caves as Freudenberger was hit by mortar shrapnel and four of his “very best friends” were killed.
“I was evacuated later at night,” Freudenberger said. “On the second night, the Japanese Navy caught our Navy by surprise and sunk four cruisers. The admiral, at that point, was so concerned about losing his (aircraft) carrier and pulled out with half our supplies.”
Freudenberger was transported to Auckland, New Zealand and underwent two surgeries to remove the fragments. Of the 390 men in his battalion, 34 were killed and 50 wounded.
Freudenberger, meanwhile, spent six weeks in the hospital.
During his tour, though, the Carlsbad man completed three night jumps, one of which ended with his unit landing in a Japanese artillery camp. Fortunately, the enemy was engaged with a movie on the small French-controlled island of New Caledonia.
“There was an army division there,” he recalled.
In December 1942, Freudenberger was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant and assigned as a paratrooper instructor at Camp LeJeune, N.C. Soon after, he transferred to the 4th Division and attended ordnance school in Quantico, Va., in July 1943.
It was in September he met Skippy and the two were married months later.
“I convinced my wife and said, ‘If you want to do it now, you have to marry me,’ because I expected to go over seas,” Freudenberger said. “We met at a dance, but I’m not a big dancer. Near the end of the night, I saw Skip walk out and she was just beautiful. I said I’m going to marry that gal.”
After World War II ended, he opted to stay with the Marines and rose through the ranks and continued his education.
He was assigned to Camp Pendleton in January 1950 with the 1st Ordinance Battalion, 1st Marine Division.
In September, he deployed to Korea and fought in the Inchon, Korea invasion where he was awarded the Bronze Star.
“Inchon, where we landed, had a 30-foot tide, one of the largest in the world,” Freudenberger said. “The ships were bouncing off each other.”
The troops also battled sub-freezing temperatures along with the Viet Cong and Chinese. He spent 10 months in Korea before returning stateside.
“We were working during the day and fighting at nighttime,” Freudenberger explained.
In 1958, he graduated from the University of Maryland.
Two years later, Freudenberger retired from the Marines attaining the rank of major.
His commitment to service, though, changed venues from the military to his community.
Freudenberger started his civilian career as appraisal loan officer with Oceanside Federal Savings and Branch Manager in Vista over the next 16 years.
He also taught real estate appraisal classes at Palomar College in San Marcos for 20 years.
Between teaching and working, Freudenberger was active in numerous nonprofits, youth sports, clubs and his church.
He was former director and president of the Boys & Girls Club of Vista, where he volunteered for 40 years.
He was also a former president of the Vista AAU swim team, member of the American Field Service, a 40-year member of the Vista Kiwanis Club and spent 11 years as a member of the All Saints Episcopal Church in Vista.
Steve Puterski covers Carlsbad and Vista. For tips or story ideas, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @StevePuterski.